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Little, high-pitched squeaks are never a good sign for RV/camper van owners. As beneficial as mice are to local ecosystems, they’re bad news in the camping world. If left untreated, a mouse infestation can ruin the wiring and other parts of your camper; fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening.
Here are 10 helpful tips that should work to keep mice out of your camper:
- Keep your camper clean.
- Regularly check in and around your camper.
- Use certain scents to deter mice from your camper.
- Store your camper on gravel or concrete.
- Set live traps and release the mice away from your campsite.
- Seal cracks, gaps, and any possible mouse entrances.
- Use lights under and around your camper at nighttime.
- Use sheet metal rings on your tires.
- Start the camper up every few days to spook any mice out.
- Shut doors, windows, and vents when you store your camper.
You can also take steps to fix any issues you already have with mice inside your camper. Keep reading for a detailed overview of several precautions you can take to deter mice, along with a few tips for getting rid of mice who may have already taken up residence in your camper.
1. Keep Your Camper Clean
Just as you would clean your house to keep animals away, you should do the same for your camper. Keeping your trailer clean and tidy is the most critical thing you can do. It’s crucial to clean your camper right before you store it for the season, as you won’t be spending time there for a few months.
While this may not be the most exciting task, it beats dealing with a full-blown infestation. Luckily, cleaning the interior of your camper shouldn’t take too much time as long as you keep your space tidy.
Consider these tips when cleaning the interior of your RV:
- Don’t go for an abrasive cleaner. Using a cleaner that’s too abrasive can lead to scratches or further damage to your paneling and floors. A mild soap and water solution can get most areas clean, but if you need something a little more intense, a mild solution of vinegar and water should do the trick.
- Use mild multi-purpose cleaners on your counters. It’s important not to let bleach set on top of camper counters as doing so will damage the material. If you do use a bleach cleaner, it’s important to wipe it off right away.
- Clean spills right as they happen. Soaking up liquid before it sets on your floor will make it much easier to clean up. Promptly cleaning up also helps you avoid ants and other pests aside from mice.
- Don’t leave loose paper or wrappers lying around. Mice like to use these to build their homes. If you don’t make these materials accessible, you’re less likely to have to deal with mice.
2. Regularly Check In and Around Your Camper
Mice are sneaky little creatures, and they can wiggle themselves into even the smallest of places. Because of this, you must do regular checks for holes inside and around your camper. Depending on what the spot looks like, you may already have an unwelcome guest.
Mice love to chew things, so any hole that looks a little rough around the edges almost certainly comes from one of these four-legged pests. If you suspect you have a mouse problem, you’ll most commonly find mouse holes in the upholstery or other fabric-covered parts of your camper as well as in your food bags and other containers.
When you find these holes, consult tip number three to find natural ways to deter mice from the area.
3. Use Certain Scents To Deter Mice From Your Camper
If you want to avoid rat poison and other harsh toxins, several natural remedies will drive mice away from your camper. Mice notoriously aren’t a fan of the smell of peppermint, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and clove. Using any of these in their natural form or with their oil will help remove mice from any area where you’ve noticed an issue.
The most common way people use these scents is by dipping a wet cotton ball into the dried variation of these spices. It’s also common to use the oils from one or more of these (peppermint oil is the most common) with a dry cotton ball in the same way.
If you don’t want to try either of those options, some people have recommended making a sachet bag filled with each of the five spices mentioned above and setting it in the area. A variety of these mixtures are also available for retail sale if that suits you better.
Scented dryer sheets have shown success among those who have used them for mice deterrents. However, dryer sheets lose their smell after a few days to a week. This means you’ll need to constantly replace them, which can cost lots of money in the long run.
On top of that, dryer sheets aren’t eco-friendly as you can only use them a few times, and many emit harmful toxins into the air.
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4. Store Your Camper on Gravel or Concrete
The main idea here is to keep your camper off of the natural ground. While parking on grass or dirt won’t necessarily mess with your trailer, it gives mice and other pests easier access to the inside. However, if you park on a slab of concrete or gravel patch, you lessen the chance of this happening.
With that said, it’s important to note that parking on concrete has a few caveats. For starters, rough and bumpy concrete can wear down your tires, and you also have to worry about water pooling. Water doesn’t flow through concrete, so the slab needs to be designed with a little bit of a crown in the middle to encourage water to run away rather than become stagnant.
If you let your camper tires rest in pools of water for extended periods of time, you run the risk of rust development and other issues.
5. Set Live Traps and Release the Mice Away From Your Campsite
Unfortunately, mice can still find their way into your camper regardless of what precautions you take. While mice are troublesome when they make their way into your camper, they’re also an essential part of the local ecosystem. For this reason, I recommend using live mouse traps to catch the pest menacing your camper and then releasing them far away from your campsite.
The Best Live Mouse Traps
You could certainly set up your own makeshift mousetrap, but buying one ready-made can help make the process much less stressful. Live mouse traps are a humane way of catching pests and releasing them back to where they belong.
Here are some of my favorite live mouse traps on Amazon.com:
Easy to Use: Open the humane mouse trap's tail door, place the bait in the food compartment, and after that open the live mouse trap spring door.
Wanqueen Humane Mouse Trap
This mouse trap comes in a pack of four and is available in transparent green, brown, or blue. The trap has holes for ventilation and uses a spring trap door to lock the mouse in once it makes its way inside. All you need to do with this one is put some peanut butter into the bait compartment and set it where you suspect mice may be hiding.
- 2.6 x 2.7 x 7 inches
- Audible Alert
- Pet Friendly
KindTrap Humane Mouse Trap
I really like this trap not only because it doesn’t hurt the mouse, but it also has an alarm that triggers once something is inside. The use of an alarm makes checking the traps a less tedious process. The trap comes in a light green color with clear siding, and 10% of all profit gets donated to the Animal Welfare Institute.
- Humane Rat Rodent Trap - After catching them, you can release them at any time. Product Size: 10.5 x 5.5 x 4.5. If you want to catch a big one, please choose a bigger size.
Kensizer Small Animal Humane Trap
This small animal trap not only works for mice but other critters that may find their way into your camper somehow too. The trap comes in a small or medium size, and it’s fine meshing helps you avoid bitten fingers. The trigger for the trap is extremely sensitive, and as soon as something touches the inside of the cage, the door will automatically shut and lock.
6. Seal Cracks, Gaps, and Any Possible Mouse Entrances
It’s helpful to inspect all potential entrances and openings in your camper. Inspection, in this case, means any doors or windows that can open at all. If you notice any cracks, gaps, or openings that need a new seal, it’s imperative to fix the issue immediately.
Not only will ignoring these cause potential critter infestations, but it could also mess with the temperature inside of your camper along with the integrity of its build over time. To seal cracks and gaps, use a high-quality, heavy-duty sealant. Doing so will ensure you won’t have to recaulk every couple of weeks continuously.
7. Use Lights Under and Around Your Camper at Nighttime
Mice prefer dark spaces. They’re natural-born prey and use the darkness to hide from potential dangers. On top of this, many mice species are also nocturnal. Therefore, if you use lights under and around your camper during dark hours, you will be less likely to come across a little mouse hiding out.
Using lights may be an excellent deterrent for mice, but it works well for squirrels and other small mammals too.
However, it’s important to note that you should be conscientious of who else may be camping around you. Don’t buy LED rope lights that glow super bright because they may disturb nearby campers.
8. Use Sheet Metal Rings on Your Tires
While mice are typically seen on the ground when you’re outdoors, they’re also excellent climbers. After all, your camper isn’t completely flat on the ground, so they had to get inside somewhere, right?
The easiest way for mice to gain access to the inside of your camper is by climbing up the wheels. The rubber grating, jacks, and other tire parts provide ample climbing spots to help a mouse hoist itself up into the camper. To avoid this, you can create rings made out of sheet metal so mice can’t grip on anything.
These metal rings are relatively easy to construct. All you need is a few pieces of flat sheet metal and a few screws to keep it in place once you create the ring. For optimal results, you should make sure to build the rings at least 8 inches (20.32 cm) off the ground.
9. Start the Camper up Every Few Days To Spook Any Mice Out
Another easy trick to get rid of mice is to give them a good spook. You can do this by starting up your camper every couple of days. When the engine starts rolling, mice can typically feel the vibration and, of course, hear the loud noise, as well.
Ideally, this will at least spook the mouse to make itself known and hopefully either make its way into a set trap or scurry off on its own back to its home. When you do this, make sure your camper’s hood is up so the mouse has somewhere to escape to when the engine starts up.
10. Shut Doors, Windows, and Vents When You Store Your Camper
Unless you’re a year-round camper or van life advocate, you’ll likely be storing your camper somewhere for the winter months until the season starts up again. Regardless of where you choose to store your trailer for the season, mice tend to congregate.
This could be due to many reasons: maybe others who have their camper stored in the same place aren’t as clean as you, or perhaps the storage yard is close to woodlands. Regardless of the situation, you can help prevent mice from making your camper into a home by shutting all doors, windows, and vents when you store for the season.
The idea is to give mice and other critters as limited access to your camper as possible. With all of these possible entry points closed off, you make your camper an impenetrable force against mice and other pests.
Here are some of my favorite van life essentials:
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you’re experiencing your life on the road. Here are some tools and gadgets I use on a daily basis that made my van life a lot easier. I hope you’ll also find them as useful as me. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, I’ll earn a commission.
But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my closest friends and family.
Kitchen: I’m cooking a lot and I’ve finally found my perfect cookware set: The Magma Cookware 10 Pcs that you can nests and store in less than 1/2 cubic foot of cabinet space is really handy. Since I’m also spending a lot of time working at my desk, I use my favorite coffee mug from Yeti. For more, check my list of kitchen accessories I can’t live without.
Outdoor: Even though I’m spending a lot of time in my van working, I do enjoy getting out and explore my ever-changing neighborhood. This sometimes requires me to take my portable solar battery with me. And when I just want to chill outside and take a nap, I use the Winner Outfitters Hammock.
Clean/Tidy: Space is precious and therefore I used these heavy-duty storage bins from Homs to store my material. They’re robust and you can stack them together. Regarding showering, I like to use this portable solar shower from Advanced Elements when it’s hot outside.
To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations about van life, check out this resource that I made for you!